THE ALHAMBRA.(London and New York: MacMillan and Co. 1896). 264 x 194 mm (10 3/8 x 7 5/8"). xx, 436 pp. Introduction by Elizabeth Pennell. ONE OF 500 EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED COPIES.
MAGNIFICENT CONTEMPORARY DARK GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO, EXTRAVAGANTLY GILT, BY BAGGULEY (signed with the firm's ink "Sutherland" patent stamp on verso of front endleaf), covers with borders of multiple plain and decorative gilt rules, lobed inner frame with fleuron cornerpieces, the whole enclosing a large and extremely intricate gilt lozenge, raised bands, spine lavishly gilt in double-ruled compartments, gilt titling and turn-ins, BEAUTIFUL VELLUM DOUBLURES ELABORATELY TOOLED IN A DIAPERED GILT, RED, AND GREEN MOORISH PATTERN, green watered silk endleaves, top edge gilt, other edges rough trimmed. With numerous illustrations in the text and 12 inserted lithographs by Joseph Pennell. With the bookplate of Harold Douthit. The boards with a slight humpback posture (as often with vellum doublures), otherwise IN IMPECCABLE CONDITION INSIDE AND OUT, the lovely binding with lustrous morocco, vellum, and gilt, and the text virtually pristine.
This is a particularly handsome example of the uncommonly seen "Sutherland" style of binding and a volume with flamboyant design elements appropriate for its contents--Irving's 41 mostly romanticized sketches relating to the Alhambra, the famous Moorish palace located in Granada. Written during Irving's residence in Spain in 1829, "The Alhambra" contains a series of pieces centering around this architectural marvel--once graceful and elegant, but now in decay--the palace providing the author with a vehicle for a romantic consideration of departed grandeur, a theme not readily available to him in America. Although he was born to struggling immigrant parents in New York City, Irving (1783-1859) became a sophisticated citizen of the world, first as a traveller and later as a political appointee, and he was a major figure in the field of American literature during the first half of the 19th century. Patented by the Staffordshire binder George Thomas Bagguley (b. ca. 1860), the wonderfully inventive "Sutherland" bindings (named after the Duchess of Sutherland) are characterized by vellum doublures that are elaborately decorated with gilt and colored tooling. All of these bindings sparkle with interest, but the present one is distinctive in at least two ways: it is a good deal bigger than the typical Bagguley binding, and the decoration on the covers is far more ornate than usual. Established in 1890, the Bagguley firm employed a number of outsiders to design bindings (including Leon V. Solon, Dorothy Talbot, and Charles Connor), and although the bindery operated for only a few years, its output was distinguished. Bagguley himself did not do any binding, but his eminent staff of binders included Louis Genth (chief finisher at Zaehnsdorf from 1859-84) and Thomas E. Caley, who had been apprenticed to Fazakerly of Liverpool and who later worked for the Hampstead Bindery. Joseph Pennell (1857-1926) was a noted American illustrator who produced a number of books in collaboration with his wife, the writer Elizabeth Robins Pennell. (ST11542)